The only thing that may be worse than dealing with grief yourself is helping your child cope with loss at the same time. Navigating your child’s grief correctly is important, so they can heal and progress. Helping children cope with death is a topic no one wants to think much about, but going about the process with a gentle hand is key.
Tips for Helping Your Child Deal With the Death of a Loved One:
- Explain in the most simple terms possible. It is okay if they do not fully understand the whole process. In fact, it is likely better if they do not. Try not to give too many details that will stick in their mind as they slowly process the loss. On the same note, be sure to answer any questions they may have, without making them feel out of place for asking.
- Do not judge their reaction. They may cry, or they may simply go play with their toys as they consider what you said. The tears may come and go between playing and laughter. All this is normal, but don’t stress about the term "normal" during this time anyway.
- Try to stick to the routine your child is already used to, the best you can. This can be difficult as you are likely navigating your own grief, family visiting, funeral planning and more, but sticking to a routine can help your child feel safe and secure through their big emotions.
You will hear a ton of platitudes and well-meaning people who are full of love and advice. Do not feel the need to follow every bit of advice that comes your way. You are navigating this for your child, and you know what is best for them.
You will be faced with deciding whether your child should attend the funeral or not as you make the funeral plans. There is no single answer. It depends on your child’s age, ability to understand the situation and your personal choice. The funeral can offer closure for many children, but it is not always the case. If you do decide to let your child attend the funeral of a loved one, understand that it will be impossible to predict their reaction to things such as the casket, pictures of the deceased, other people crying and crowds.
The Path Ahead Is Long
The first few days will fly by with the shock, funeral plans and family surrounding you. After the first month or few months, you will find that grief and adjusting to change comes in waves. You will have to continually make adjustments for yourself and your child(ren).
Keeping old routines and traditions is important for your child to feel safe and stable, but slowly establishing new routines and fun traditions can help you and your child find joy and hope as you adjust to how life is shaped without that missing piece.
If you or your child is struggling after the death of a loved one, there is help available in the form of therapy and group meetings. Do not hesitate to reach out, you may be surprised at how much talking to others who are in the same situation can help in the process of grief.
Categorised in: Grief
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